There's a lot that changes when your children get older.

Some of the things that seemed like big events dwindle in importance over the years, either because you've been doing it for years or both the parents and children have grown weary of the experience.

Back-to-school shopping is no longer an event in our home.

That doesn't mean it's not expensive, just different.

My daughter, Claire, got her list of art supplies she'll need for a class in water colors.

She's a graphic design major and has taken more art classes than I ever would have thought a graphic design artist would need. But then again, I took a class in philosophy and Mideastern studies while I was in college. I know nothing about either. It's all part of the well-rounded education you get in college. I think by the time you get to college any college you should only have to pay for the courses that will lead to your career, but that's for another column.

Back to Claire's list. It's long. It'll be expensive, and she'll need help paying for it.

I don't really have a problem getting whatever she needs for classes. After all, she's doing well, enjoying it and it will lead to a degree and a job.

This year my son, Alek, heads off to college for the first time. He and his roommate already have purchased the essentials: a large, flat-screen TV and refrigerator.

Not sure how much he realizes there are other things he'll need.

We'll take him shopping, and he'll learn how quickly his savings gets depleted when the bills start adding up.

These shopping trips are less of a production than when Claire and Alek were in elementary school.

Those days, we had lists and headed to the store to pick up whatever the school required for that particular grade.

It was a big deal. The kids were excited because they got new stuff, and as they got older, got to use supplies that told them they were getting bigger, and nothing means more when you are a kid than getting older and having more responsibility. It's not until you're older when you realize more stuff and more responsibility aren't really as cool as they used to be.

Sometime around middle school and high school, buying school supplies became a lot less glamorous.

For the kids, it just meant that school was starting soon, and the days of staying up late and sleeping in were about over.

For parents, it meant spending money and getting back into a routine.

I was never one who was glad when school started because the kids were back in school.

I liked having them around the house. It meant more free time for all of us. And, of course, summer was baseball, and school starting officially meant I had to wait another year until I could hear "play ball."

So we'll take Claire and Alek shopping and pick up some supplies for the upcoming school year.

For Alek, it'll be a new experience; for Claire, the same, old routine.

I guess for my wife and I, it'll be a little different. We are sending our last child to college.

Seems odd to think that this is the end of a life we have known for so long.

But life isn't so much about the changes, but how you handle them.

We'll adjust, even though shopping for school supplies has changed from picking out just the right book bag to finding the best flat-screen TV.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.